Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Meet Doll Artist, Wyatt E. Hicks

Doll artist, Wyatt E. Hicks

Toledo, Ohio native, Wyatt E. Hicks contacted me recently with a request to share images of his doll art.  I am in turn sharing those images here because I think his work is astounding.  If I can help him gain the exposure he deserves, I am all for it! 

The Essence of an Ebony Man

Personal likeness of a loved one passed: Miss. Lillie.

Up Where We Belong

Up Where We Belong (close-up)

Likenesses:  Bob Marley, Kweisi Mfume, Sammy Davis, Jr., George Washington Carver, Toni Morrison
Hicks' dolls are made of Super Sculpey and wire armatures mostly. The heights range from 6 inches to 30 inches.  Prices for personal likenesses range from $300 to $600, depending on how elaborate the clothing. Other dolls range from $85 to $225. 

Closeups of Marley, Mfume, Davis, Carver, and Morrison likenesses follow:

Additional Likenesses
Josephine Baker

Tavis Smiley
Nikki Giovanni
The Following Are Spirit Filled

About himself Wyatt writes:
I met Miss Laverne Hall* in 1993 by accident. My sweetheart and I found a flyer about a doll show and decided to drop in uninvited.  Miss Hall was more than nice to us. She allowed us to participate in the event (we sold T-shirts). I saw some of the images that were being made and it immediately inspired me. I couldn't wait to get home and buy some clay. (It wasn't until weeks later that I realized it was OK to use something other than my fingers to sculpt).

For three years or so I was able to express my creativity at Hall's Holiday Festival of Dolls. I couldn't pursue many shows following due to my father's prolonged illness.  Many of the dolls [shared here] are at least ten years old as a result.

I attempted to share the images with the Doll Reader magazine but they weren't interested.  The other day I was researching online when I happened across your words about your love of black dolls and felt that it was time for me to resurface...

I've lived in Toledo most of my life, but I love to travel.

Email address is OK to pass on:

Thanks for all you do!

I am happy that my words inspired you to contact me, Wyatt.  Thank you again for sharing the photos of your art dolls. 


*About LaVerne's Original Holiday Festival of Black Dolls taken from a 1998 National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center flyer:

LaVerne Hall began her own company manufacturing paper dolls in response to a need she saw for Black paper dolls.  She named her first line of dolls after her daughter, Mahji... [which grew into a thriving business.  Her line included] custom paper dolls of other children and historic Black figures.  Stemming from early frustrations convincing major retail stores to carry her line, she established an organization to help increase the public visibility of Black dolls and dollmakers.  This organization, LaVerne's Original Holiday Festival of Black Dolls, was the first of its kind to sponsor Black doll shows in selected cities each year.

Events and shows produced by LaVerne's Original Holiday Festival of Black Dolls continued for 18 years.  A February 16, 2012, article, Woman Creates Black Paper Dolls for Her Daughters, provides additional information about Ms. Hall's work in the Black doll community.

It's a Small World
Ms. Hall is also responsible for publishing my first doll-related writings in her DOLL-E-GRAM publication from 1998-1999.  I wrote several collector profiles for the "Spotlight on Collectors" column of DOLL-E-GRAM.     


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Who Am I? The Netherlands Doll Find

I received the following inquiry with images seeking help identifying the doll head shown.  I could not identify the head and asked permission to share the images here. 

Dear Debbie Garrett,
I saw your website about your black doll collection. I am from The Netherlands and I bought the head of black doll on a market without a body. It’s made of paper [mache]. I looked for more information about this doll, but I can’t find anything. Do you [know] more about this doll? Can you can give information about this doll?

...find photos in the attachment.
Best regards,
The Netherlands

If you know the identification of this mystery doll or can offer leads in this regard, please post that information in a comment.  Thanks in advance!


Monday, July 28, 2014

Assessment of First Phicen

Inspired by Roxanne's blog posts about her Phicen females, I stumbled upon the following video.  After viewing, I conducted a more-information and best-price search for:  Phicen model PLLB-03 Brown.

The head sculpt is more attractive than most others I have seen.  This, along with the supple "skin" and seamless joints, interested me.  Her facial features also remind me of someone I know.

There are two versions with this head sculpt in brown complexion.  One has straight hair, the other has curly hair, as seen in the video.  Based on the April 12, 2012, date of the video, I believe the curly haired version was released first.  I chose that version because I prefer curly hair over straight.

My best-price find was located on eBay.  My Phicen left China on July 11, 2014, with an estimated delivery between Tuesday, July 29th through Tuesday, September 2nd!  I received an email from the seller requesting my patience because it could possibly take several weeks for the package to arrive.  If the package did not arrive within a month, the seller asked to be contacted.  I already knew that patience would be required based on the proposed estimated date of arrival, but thanked him for his warning.

My Phicen, fortunately was delivered much sooner on Saturday, July 19th.  I immediately tore open the end flap of the shipping box to inspect the contents.

The front of the box shows a shapely female silhouette with check marks placed alongside this figure's attributes:
  • 1/6 Seamless female body/33 points of articulation
  • Large breast size
  • Brown

The back of the box illustrates the figure's functionality and offers warnings on how not to over-manipulate the figure. To ensure that the consumer understands how fragile the joints are, an extra typewritten (Chinese to English translation) note was included inside that reads:

Please note:  the joints of PHICEN Toys TBLeague is fragile if it be moved tightly.

Nudity warning (keep in mind that this is a doll, not a human, and this is a review with photos of the product).

Phicen inside box liner as she arrived.

Overall Assessment:


In addition to the attributes indicated on the front of the box, this figure is:
  • Anatomically correct
  • Has two extra sets of hands (animal-print hand cuffs are included). 
  • The head is removable, although I have not attempted to remove it.
  • The "skin and muscle areas" are very supple, similar to the silicone/vinyl mixture used for some "lifelike" collectible baby dolls.
  • There are preplaced holes in each earlobe for earrings (which can only accommodate a short ear post).  
  • The hair is nicely rooted.  
  • She can stand alone (and why wouldn't she be able to with those flat feet?).  Animal-print ankle cuffs are included. 
  • The arms can be raised and lowered and, in the raised position, can be locked into several positions until extended at shoulder level.
  • Both arms rotate outward and inward.   
  • The hands are fully rotational and can move up and down. 
  • The waist movement is minimal -- two clicks forward, two clicks backward.
  • The knees bend backward and lock into position with several clicks.  
  • The feet are removable and fully rotational.  They can move up and down slightly in the forward position.
  • It took a while for me to find and move the hip joints, which have slight left and right sway and up and down swing where the legs can be lifted forward.  The side panel of the box illustrates more movement than I was able to achieve.
  • This could be perceived as a con to some:  Phicen is not a girly girly figure in facial appearance, but her face is more appealing than most brown female action figures.
Dressed in animal-print bra and bikini, Phicen demonstrates the arm movement.
Hand movement is up, down, and fully rotational
Leg and knee movement
Dressed initially in a Mixis fashion with borrowed earrings from Prettie Girls Lena, Phicen poses for a close-up.

  • Phicen has man hands, all three pairs.
  • There is supposed to be a left and right sway movement at the waist.  I could never make this happen. 
  • All joints are rigid with awkward movement. 
  • Finding shoes to fit her long flat feet, which measure 1-1/2 x 1/2 inch, will be difficult.
  • In some positions, an impression of the joints is visible underneath the "skin."
  • Because of the joint fragility, manipulating for posing will be minimal for fear of breaking a joint.  

Clearly the pros outweigh the cons.

Additional photos were taken after I fluffed the hair with a styling brush and dressed Phicen.  The flat feet were replaced with OJItoys' FemBasix high-heel feet with molded-on shoes.  The extra feet were purchased several years ago for the Perfect Body Stage 2 female by Blue Box Toys.  The brown color is not an exact match for either figure but is a closer match for Phicen.

Phicen holds a pair of new feet, then poses after they have been placed.

I decided Phicen should be named Pam (a name that I will remember because of her mature body:  think Pam Grier).  As a dressed doll, her mature body and face give her a motherly look...

Pam becomes the perfect mother for Calista.

...or maybe, in the right clothes, she could be an educator.

Brianna Joy and Calista will be excellent students in Ms. Phicen's classroom.
Even with the cons, I am not disappointed in this purchase.  Pam reinforces the fact that dolls as inanimate representations of humans are not just pretty playthings to collect, display, and/or document.   They can be posed, redressed, and otherwise enjoyed. In the case of Ms. Phicen, however, the posing should be done gingerly. 

Check out Roxanne's post that inspired this purchase and also her Phicen vs Phicen post.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Guest Blogger, K. Charles Introduces the so Cool, so Cute, so You, Double Dutch Dolls

Thanks to Debbie for offering me the great opportunity to introduce you all to the Double Dutch Dolls. I have had so much fun creating this line of dolls and books and I hope you will love them as much as I do. Okay, here goes.

The Story
Once upon a time there was a young girl (me) who loved to read. She would read anything and everything but her favorites were Sweet Valley High and anything Judy Blume. She always wished though that there were stories like those that featured girls like her. So, when she grew up she decided to write stories for multicultural little girls. From that the Double Dutch Dolls were born. The series is based on 14-year old African-American identical twins Kaila and Zaria and their four friends: Sascha (African-American), Alainna (Hispanic), Trinity (African-American/Caucasian), and Kadence (Caucasian/Latina). The stories are all about fashion, fun, gossip, peer pressure and all sorts of other girlie things.

The characters became so real to me. I could picture how they looked and how they dressed so I worked with a graphic designer to bring them to life. After hours, days, weeks and months of me describing every detail about the girls and him pulling it all together, the Double Dutch Dolls were really born. They were beautiful. At that moment, I thought, I have to bring these characters to real life. There are so many little girls out there who would love them, not just in the stories, but also as real life dolls who would become their forever friends.

Shown above: the actual doll colors for the entire Double Dutch Dolls doll line

Doll Details
The first two dolls based on the main characters Kaila and Zaria are currently available and retail for $69.97. Double Dutch Dolls are 18-inch, all-vinyl fashion dolls with pierced ears, a realistic child-like body and jointed limbs. They have extra joints in their elbows, knees and wrists so they can be posed in many natural looking positions. Since one of the key elements of the Double Dutch Dolls story line centers around fashion, I wanted the dolls to be poseable and thinner than 18” dolls like American Girl, Target’s Our Generation or Toys R Us Journey Girls, which have cloth bodies. The thicker cloth bodies don’t look as good in fashion outfits.

Double Dutch Dolls also have wigged rather than rooted hair, which is superior. Their wigged hair is machine sewn onto a fabric wig cap, glued onto the doll’s head and then cut and styled. Because of this, their wigged hair better retains its hairstyle more easily than rooted hair. All dolls come with pierced ears (earrings sold separately) and super cute fashion outfits.

Double Dutch Dolls, Kaila and Zaria
What’s Next
I am hard at work putting the finishing touches on the four other Double Dutch Dolls (Sacha, Alainna, Trinity and Kadence) and hope to release them soon. I have received such an outpouring of support from doll enthusiasts, moms, grandmothers, aunts, and daughters. And, I thank you all. I am very excited to share the Double Dutch Dolls with all of you and I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas. You can log on to for more information, email me at, or visit and "like" the Facebook page at

K. Charles
K. Charles is the creator of the Double Dutch Dolls and author of the books written about them.

I would like to thank Ms. Charles for sharing information about the "so Cool, so Cute, so You," Double Dutch Dolls and the books she has written.  With her permission, I have shared photos of my girls as well as a photo of the back of one of the doll's boxes.

Double Dutch Dolls Kaila and Zaria pose with the books, Double Dare and Double Trouble.
The jointed elbows and wrists can be better seen in this close-up of Kaila without her hoodie.  Their knees are also jointed. 
The back of the box provides additional details about the twins.
Please note that my dolls' legs were stained black in areas from the dye used for the socks.  I was able to remove the stains with Oxy-10.  I also soaked the socks in hot water to remove most of the dye to prevent further seepage into the vinyl. As a precautionary measure, I wrapped their legs with Saran wrap before the socks were put back on. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Black Petitcollin Dolls

A swimming baby by Petitcollin of France circa early 1990s

I purchased my first Petitcollin doll in December 2010.  He is a 10 in/25 cm swimming baby, circa early 1990s made by the Petitcollin company of France, item #2025705. His box is undated.    He wears a light and dark blue striped swimsuit, has a light blue terrycloth towel, and red inflatable lifesaver.  Fashioned after the original early 1900s dolls made of celluloid, he has a very dark complexion, painted brown eyes, a broad nose and full lips.  His molded curly hair is painted black.  He is jointed at the arms and legs.  His neck is not jointed.

Written in French with English translation, the back of the box reads:

Hello, my name is Petit Colin.  I am a true Petitcollin doll.  I was born in Etain, in the Lorraine region of France.

I come from a very large family of dolls.  I was made in France with a lot of care.  I was hand-decorated in the traditional manner.  My skin is soft like the skin of a real baby.  You can take a bath with me.

According to a Wikipedia entry, in 1995, Vilac acquired the company, which became known as SARL Jouets Petitcollin ( The factory has been open to the public for tours since 1998.  A video of their doll making process can be viewed below:

African Mother and baby, stock #2025741; and Father, stock #2025740 by Petitcollin of France post 1995

I recently acquired an African family of Petitcollin dolls from Linda Hayes who continues to sell her extensive black-doll collection.  Like the swimming baby, Mother and Father are also 10 inches (25 cm).  Baby is 3-1/2 inches (9 cm).  The larger dolls use the same mold as the swimming baby.  A boubou is worn by Mother and Father.  Mother has headwrap; Father has Kofi of the same colorful fabric.  The nude baby is a miniature version of his parents. 

This close-up of African baby includes mother's cardboard hang tag, which illustrates a white Petitcollin doll.

All boxes are marked Jouets Petitcollin.

Better known for its wide variety of white dolls, the company has made black (Hindou) versions as well as Asian dolls and those with the deepest complexion like my examples that are described by the company as genuinely black (Negri) dolls.  At the company's website, under the products link, the only black dolls are a snow globe baby and a vinyl baby doll in a couple of sizes.

History of Petitcollin Doll Company
African Petitcollin Doll (nude)